Paul Dano

From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

Paul Dano
Dano in 2024
Paul Franklin Dano

(1984-06-19) June 19, 1984 (age 40)
New York City, U.S.
Years active1996–present
PartnerZoe Kazan (2007–present)
AwardsFull list

Paul Franklin Dano (/ˈdn/;[1] born June 19, 1984)[2] is an American actor. He won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Debut Performance for his role in L.I.E. (2001) and gained wider recognition for playing a troubled teenager in Little Miss Sunshine (2006). For playing identical twins in Paul Thomas Anderson's period drama There Will Be Blood (2007), he was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Following supporting roles in such mainstream films as Knight and Day (2010), Cowboys & Aliens (2011), and Looper (2012), Dano had critically acclaimed roles in 12 Years a Slave and Prisoners (both 2013). For his portrayal of Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson in Love & Mercy (2014), he earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor. In 2018, he starred as a convicted murderer in the Showtime miniseries Escape at Dannemora, for which he received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor. In 2022, he played The Riddler in The Batman and a caring father in The Fabelmans, receiving a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for the latter.

Dano made his directorial debut with the drama film Wildlife (2018), which he also co-wrote with his partner, Zoe Kazan. He has also written the comic book The Riddler: Year One (2022). On Broadway theatre, Dano has starred in productions of A Free Man of Color (2010–2011) and True West (2019).

Early life[edit]

Dano was born in New York City, New York, the son of Gladys (née Pipp), a homemaker, and Paul A. Dano, a financial advisor.[3] He has a younger sister named Sarah.[4][5][6] Dano spent the first few years of his childhood in New York City and initially attended the Browning School.[5][7] While he was a child, Dano's family moved to New Canaan, Connecticut, finally settling in Wilton, Connecticut.[5] Dano continued his education at Wilton High School, graduating in 2002, and attended Eugene Lang College in New York City.[5] He was involved in community theater, and while he was performing in New Canaan, his parents were encouraged to take him to New York.[5]



In 1996, Dano portrayed The Little Boy (Edgar) in the world premiere of Terrence McNally's musical Ragtime at the Ford Center of the Performing Arts (now the Meridian Arts Centre) in Toronto.[8]


Dano in 2007

Dano made his Broadway debut at age twelve in John Tillinger's revival of Inherit the Wind, alongside George C. Scott and Charles Durning.[9] He appeared in an episode of the sitcom Smart Guy and had a minor role in the 2000 family drama The Newcomers. He played the part of Patrick Whalen in several episodes of The Sopranos (season 4).

Dano acted in his first major film role when he was sixteen, playing Howie Blitzer, a teenage boy who becomes involved with a middle-aged ephebophile (Brian Cox) in L.I.E. (2001).[10] He then appeared in the television film Too Young to Be a Dad as a high school student whose life is disrupted when his girlfriend becomes pregnant. He appeared in The Emperor's Club in 2002 as Martin Blythe. In 2004, he played a small role as the young Martin Asher in Taking Lives, with Angelina Jolie and Ethan Hawke. Additionally, Dano starred in The Girl Next Door, alongside Elisha Cuthbert, Emile Hirsch, and Chris Marquette. In 2005, he played supporting roles in The King and The Ballad of Jack and Rose.

He came to greater attention in 2006, when he played Dwayne, a voluntarily mute teenager as part of an ensemble in the comedic drama Little Miss Sunshine, which received critical acclaim and collective awards for its cast. He also had a supporting role in the 2006 film Fast Food Nation, based on the nonfiction book by Eric Schlosser. Dano had a dual role in the 2007 period film There Will Be Blood, which earned him positive reviews and a BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Texas Monthly said that his performance was "so electric that the movie sags whenever he's not around."[11] Peter Travers remarked, "All praise to the baby-faced Dano...for bringing sly cunning and unexpected ferocity to Plainview's most formidable opponent."[12] Rolling Stone magazine included Dano in its Hot List for 2007, calling his performance style "Daniel Day-Lewis + Billy Crudup × Johnny Depp."[13]

Dano appeared in several additional Broadway productions, including A Thousand Clowns at the Roundabout Theatre, and in Ethan Hawke’s directorial debut, Things We Want, during its 2007 Off-Broadway run.

In 2008, he starred in Gigantic, a poorly-reviewed film about a man seeking to adopt a Chinese baby, co-starring Zooey Deschanel. He reunited with Brian Cox in 2009's Good Heart, a low-budget English-language Icelandic film. He provided the voice of one of the creatures in the film adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are (2009).


He played a genius inventor in 2010's Knight and Day, an action thriller starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. The same year, he appeared in Meek's Cutoff, a well-reviewed historical drama. In 2011, he had a supporting role in the big-budget science fiction film Cowboys and Aliens.

Dano appeared in three feature films in 2012: Ruby Sparks, as a writer whose fictional character (played by Zoe Kazan, the film's writer and Dano's partner) inexplicably appears as a real person; in a supporting role alongside Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis in the time-travel thriller Looper; and as the writer Nick Flynn, alongside Robert De Niro, in Being Flynn, a film based on Flynn's memoir about his relationship with his father. In 2013, Dano appeared in Steve McQueen's period-drama biopic 12 Years a Slave, based on the memoirs of Solomon Northup. Dano portrayed John Tibeats, an overseer at the plantation Northup is sold to. The film was a critical success and won the Academy Award for Best Picture and numerous other awards.

Dano at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival

In 2014, Dano played a younger version of the Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson (with John Cusack as an older version of Wilson) in the biopic Love & Mercy, for which he received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

In 2015, Dano appeared with Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel in the Italian comedy-drama Youth; Dano portrayed Jimmy Tree, an actor doing research for an upcoming role who is frustrated to be best known for a previous role as a robot. In January 2016, Dano appeared as Pierre Bezukhov in the BBC's six-part adaptation of Tolstoy's War and Peace.[14]

In Fall 2016, he appeared in a video as an onstage "stand-in" during the Nostalgic for the Present concert tour of Australian singer Sia, for her song "Bird Set Free."[15]

In July 2016, it was announced that Dano would make his directorial debut with the movie Wildlife, based on the 1990 novel of the same name by Richard Ford.[16] The movie was set to be produced by June Pictures and to star Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal. Dano stated, "I have always wanted to make films and have always known I would make films about family. I couldn't be happier to have such beautiful collaborators like Carey and Jake leading the way."[17] The film received critical acclaim when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. It also screened at the Cannes Film Festival, the Toronto Film Festival and the Mill Valley Film Festival.[18] The film has earned a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes with the consensus reading, "Wildlife's portrait of a family in crisis is beautifully composed by director Paul Dano -- and brought brilliantly to life by a career-best performance from Carey Mulligan".[19]

In 2016, Dano played the role of Hank Thompson in Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan's absurdist black-comedy film Swiss Army Man, alongside Daniel Radcliffe and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.[20] His character is a suicidal man, stranded on an island, who befriends a farting corpse. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 22, and opened in theaters on June 24. Although some viewers walked out of the film viewing due to its bizarre humor,[21] critics left generally favorable reviews of the film. Paul won the Critics' Choice Award twice in 2007, and was nominated in 2014 and 2016.

In 2018, he portrayed escaped inmate David Sweat in the Showtime miniseries Escape at Dannemora alongside Patricia Arquette and Benicio del Toro, for which he received a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series.

From December 27, 2018, to March 17, 2019, Dano starred in the critically acclaimed Broadway revival of Sam Shepard's True West, with Ethan Hawke, at the Roundabout Theater Company's American Airlines Theater in New York.[22]

In October 2019, Dano was cast as The Riddler in Matt Reeves's 2022 superhero film The Batman.[23] Reeves wrote the role with Dano in mind after seeing Dano's portrayal of Brian Wilson in Love & Mercy.[24]


In April 2021, Paul Dano was cast in Steven Spielberg's semi-autobiographical coming-of-age film The Fabelmans as Burt Fabelman, a character loosely based on Spielberg's father Arnold.[25][26] The film was released in 2022 to universal acclaim;[27] with Dano's performance earning praise from Pete Hammond of Deadline Hollywood describing him as "terrific as the genuinely nice and loving father torn between following his own career and caring for his wife and family under increasingly difficult circumstances" and Stephanie Zacharek of Time including Dano in Time's Top 10 movie performances of 2022 describing his portrayal as "the sum of all the things that so many men of that generation just didn't know how to be; we also see a deep well of love, no less real for being left unexpressed."[28] Dano would subsequently receive nominations for Best Supporting Actor at the Screen Actors Guild Awards and Critics' Choice Movie Awards.

Also in April 2021, he joined Adam Sandler and Carey Mulligan in Netflix's Spaceman, an adaptation of Jaroslav Kalfař's novel Spaceman of Bohemia, directed by Johan Renck.[29] He is also set to star in AMC's animated drama Pantheon, and in a television series based on Mr. and Mrs. Smith for Amazon Prime Video, joining Donald Glover, Maya Erskine, Michaela Coel and John Turturro.[30][31] In September 2022, it was announced that Dano would star in Craig Gillespie's Dumb Money, an adaptation of Ben Mezrich's The Antisocial Network, alongside Seth Rogen, Sebastian Stan and Pete Davidson.[32]

In March 2022, it was announced that Dano would make his comic debut writing The Riddler: Year One for DC's Black Label imprint. The six issue limited series is set in the continuity of The Batman and showcase the rise of Edward Nashton / Patrick Parker into becoming the Riddler.[33]

Dano is a Main Competition jury member at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival.[34]

Personal life[edit]

Dano has been in a relationship with actress and screenwriter Zoe Kazan since 2007.[35][36] They have a daughter, born in August 2018, and a son, born in October 2022.[37][38] They reside in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn.[39]

Dano is the vocalist and lead guitarist of the band Mook.[40]

Dano's second cousin is rapper Jack Harlow.[40]



Denotes productions that have not yet been released
Year Title Role Notes
2000 The Newcomers Joel
2001 L.I.E. Howie Blitzer Credited as Paul Franklin Dano
2002 The Emperor's Club Martin Blythe
Too Young to Be a Dad Matt Freeman
2004 Taking Lives Young Asher
The Girl Next Door Klitz
2005 The Ballad of Jack and Rose Thaddius
The King Paul
2006 Little Miss Sunshine Dwayne
Fast Food Nation Brian
2007 Weapons Chris
There Will Be Blood Paul Sunday / Eli Sunday
2008 Explicit Ills Rocco
Light and the Sufferer Don ("Light")
Gigantic Brian Weathersby Also executive producer
2009 Taking Woodstock VW Guy
The Good Heart Lucas
Where the Wild Things Are Alexander (voice)
2010 The Extra Man Louis Ives
Meek's Cutoff Thomas Gately
Knight and Day Simon Feck
2011 Cowboys & Aliens Percy Dolarhyde
2012 Being Flynn Nick Flynn
Ruby Sparks Calvin Weir-Fields Also executive producer
Looper Seth
For Ellen Joby Also executive producer
2013 12 Years a Slave John Tibeats
Prisoners Alex Jones
2014 Love & Mercy Brian Wilson
2015 Youth Jimmy Tree
2016 Swiss Army Man Hank
2017 Okja Jay
2018 Wildlife Director, writer, and producer[41]
2021 The Guilty Matthew Fontenot (voice)
2022 The Batman Edward Nashton / The Riddler
The Fabelmans Burt Fabelman
2023 Dumb Money Keith Gill
2024 Spaceman Hanuš Voice


Year Title Role Notes
1997 Smart Guy Nicholas 1 episode
2002–2004 The Sopranos Patrick Whalen 2 episodes
2016 War & Peace Pierre Bezukhov Miniseries, 6 episodes
2018 Escape at Dannemora David Sweat Miniseries, 7 episodes
2022 Saturday Night Live Himself Episode: "Zoë Kravitz/Rosalía"
2022–2023 Pantheon Caspian Keyes Voice role, 16 episodes
2024 Mr. & Mrs. Smith Harris Materbach Guest Star[42]
Fantasmas Jeff TBA[43]


Year Title Role Notes
1996 Inherit the Wind Howard Royale Theatre
1997–1998 A Christmas Carol Street Urchin The Theater at Madison Square Garden
2007 Things We Want Charles Acorn Theatre[44]
2010–2011 A Free Man of Color Meriwether Lewis Vivian Beaumont Theater
2019 True West Austin American Airlines Theater


With Mook

  • The Eggs EP (2007)
  • Mook (2011)


Awards and nominations[edit]


  1. ^ "'Wildlife' | Anatomy of a Scene". The New York Times. November 1, 2018. Retrieved November 22, 2018.
  2. ^ Cammila Collar (2015). "Paul Dano – Biography". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on June 6, 2015. Retrieved September 17, 2015.
  3. ^ Keegan, Rebecca (March 2, 2022). "Paul Dano on His Terrifying Batman Villain and Why He's No Longer Scared of Going Hollywood". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 2, 2022.
  4. ^ Grandjean, Pat, "First People" column, item titled "The Buzz", Connecticut Magazine, November 2006, p. 17.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Spotlight again on Wilton's Paul Dano". The Hour. March 5, 2008. Archived from the original on February 26, 2012. Retrieved March 15, 2022.
  6. ^ "'Ruby Sparks' Paul Dano chills out in Pennsylvania". Morning Call. July 26, 2012. Retrieved March 15, 2022.
  7. ^ "Fair Game – Paul Dano". Public Radio International.
  8. ^ Evans, Greg (December 15, 1996). "Ragtime, the Musical". Variety. Retrieved November 25, 2023.
  9. ^ Ryzik, Melena (April 2, 2009). "Chasing Stardom, in No Particular Rush". New York Times. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  10. ^ Blunt, Emily. "Stephen Ryder Tells A Lie". Blunt Review. Archived from the original on May 28, 2008. Retrieved May 2, 2008.
  11. ^ Kelly, Christopher. "Crude Truth". Texas Monthly. 35 (12):68–70. December 2007.
  12. ^ Travers, Peter (January 24, 2008). "There Will Be Blood." Rolling Stone. (1044):70.
  13. ^ Savage, Lesley (October 18, 2007), "THE NEXT GENERATION". Rolling Stone. (1037):76
  14. ^ "BBC – BBC One announces cast for epic new event drama War and Peace – Media Centre". Retrieved January 12, 2016.
  15. ^ Stevenson, Jane. "Crowd eats up pop star Sia's minimalistic show". Retrieved November 6, 2016.
  16. ^ McNary, Dave (July 29, 2016). "Paul Dano to Make Directorial Debut With Indie Drama 'Wildlife'". Variety. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  17. ^ Pedersen, Erik (September 23, 2016). "Jake Gyllenhaal & Carey Mulligan Star In 'Wildlife', Paul Dano's Directing Debut". Deadline. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  18. ^ "MVFF: Spotlight on Paul Dano – Marin Matters – September 2018". September 21, 2018. Retrieved March 13, 2019.
  19. ^ "Wildlife (2018)" – via
  20. ^ "Paul Dano on Daniel Radcliffe's 'Swiss Army Man' Farts: 'It Was Glorious'". June 27, 2016. Retrieved May 25, 2022.
  21. ^ Setoodeh, Ramin (January 23, 2016). "Sundance: Daniel Radcliffe's Farting Corpse Movie Prompts Walk-Outs". Variety. Retrieved May 25, 2022.
  22. ^ Brantley, Ben (March 17, 2019). "Review: Ethan Hawke and Paul Dano Go Mano a Mano in the Riveting 'True West'". The New York Times – via
  23. ^ "'The Batman' Casts Paul Dano as the Riddler". The Hollywood Reporter. October 17, 2019. Retrieved October 17, 2019.
  24. ^ Bergeson, Samantha (March 3, 2022). "Paul Dano's Performance as Brian Wilson Helped Inspire His Riddler Character in 'The Batman'". IndieWire.
  25. ^ Vary, Adam B. (April 8, 2021). "Paul Dano Joins Steven Spielberg's Semi-Autobiographical Film as Director's Fictional Father". Variety. Retrieved April 17, 2021.
  26. ^ Keegan, Rebecca (March 2, 2022). "Paul Dano on His Terrifying Batman Villain and Why He's No Longer Scared of Going Hollywood". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 7, 2022.
  27. ^ The Fabelmans, retrieved January 12, 2023
  28. ^ "The 10 Best Movie Performances of 2022". Time. December 9, 2022. Retrieved January 12, 2023.
  29. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (April 19, 2021). "Paul Dano & Kunal Nayyar Buckle Up For Netflix Adam Sandler Movie 'Spaceman'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 29, 2022.
  30. ^ Otterson, Joe (July 23, 2020). "Paul Dano, Taylor Schilling, Aaron Eckhart, Rosemarie DeWitt Join AMC Animated Drama 'Pantheon'". Variety. Retrieved June 29, 2022.
  31. ^ Otterson, Joe (June 29, 2022). "Michaela Coel, John Turturro, Paul Dano Join Donald Glover & Maya Erskine in 'Mr. and Mrs. Smith' Amazon Series". Variety. Retrieved June 29, 2022.
  32. ^ Kroll, Justin (September 1, 2022). "Craig Gillespie and Black Bear Pictures GameStop Stock Pic 'Dumb Money' Sets A-List Cast With Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, Sebastian Stan And Pete Davidson, Black Bear To Launch Sales at Toronto". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 1, 2022.
  33. ^ "Paul Dano to Write The Riddler in a New DC Black Label Limited Series!". DC. March 18, 2022. Retrieved March 18, 2022.
  34. ^ Roxborough, Scott (May 4, 2023). "Cannes: Brie Larson, Paul Dano, Julia Ducournau on Competition Jury, Pixar's 'Elemental' to Close Festival". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 25, 2023.
  35. ^ "Actual Couples Explore a Fantasy, the Aesthetic Sort". The New York Times. July 20, 2012. Retrieved July 3, 2015.
  36. ^ "Love and Mercy's Paul Dano relates to Brian Wilson's tortured genius". The Sydney Morning Herald. June 4, 2015. Retrieved July 3, 2015.
  37. ^ "Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan Welcome a Daughter". People. October 25, 2018.
  38. ^ "Zoe Kazan Reveals She Quietly Welcomed Her Second Baby Three Weeks Ago". Peoplemag. Retrieved November 19, 2022.
  39. ^ Ugwu, Jeffrey (January 2, 2019). "Paul Dano's Cup Runneth Over (and Over)". The New York Times. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  40. ^ a b Lee, Jinnie (November 27, 2007). "Meet Mook". Nylon Magazine. Archived from the original on September 16, 2011.
  41. ^ Pedersen, Erik (September 23, 2016). "Jake Gyllenhaal & Carey Mulligan Star In 'Wildlife', Paul Dano's Directing Debut". deadline. Retrieved September 23, 2016.
  42. ^ Otterson, Joe (June 29, 2022). "Michaela Coel, John Turturro, Paul Dano Join Donald Glover & Maya Erskine in Mr. and Mrs. Smith Amazon Series". Variety. Retrieved January 4, 2023.
  43. ^ "Fantasmas Official Trailer". YouTube. May 23, 2024. Retrieved May 23, 2024.
  44. ^ "A Boys' Guide to Narcotizing the Pain". The New York Times. November 8, 2007. Retrieved July 3, 2015.

External links[edit]